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US bishops endorse bill to provide legislative fix for DACA recipients

Washington D.C., Apr 25, 2018 / 06:02 pm (CNA/EWTN News).- A federal judge ruled on Tuesday evening that the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program must be re-opened to new applicants, and the following day the USCCB announced support for the “Uniting and Securing America (USA) Act of 2018,” which would codify DACA into law.

DACA is an Obama-era federal program that protects people who were brought to the United States illegally as children from being deported and also provides for work permits. DACA recipients, who are commonly referred to as “Dreamers,” must renew their DACA status each year.

President Donald Trump has sought to end DACA, saying that the initial program was only an executive order that went beyond the scope of presidential powers.

While other court decisions have ordered that the federal government begin to accept DACA renewals, the April 24 decision by Judge John Bates was different in that it re-opened the program for new applicants. Bates said that he did not believe the Trump administration provided a strong enough case for why the program should end.

Trump has urged Congress to pass a law that would combine some of DACA’s provisions along with immigration reform, but so far these efforts have not been successful.

Bates’ decision will go into effect in 90 days, unless the Trump Administration issues new reason as for why it is ending DACA.

The USCCB’s Committee on Migration issued a letter of support April 24 for H.R. 4796, dubbed the “Uniting and Securing America (USA) Act of 2018.”

The bill would shield “Dreamers” from deportation and would provide for a path to citizenship for certain qualified persons. Additionally, the USA Act of 2018 would increase border security and would seek to address corruption in Central America – a major cause of “irregular migration.”

The bill was introduced by Reps. Will Hurd (R-TX) and Pete Aguilar (D-CA), and is co-sponsored by a bipartisan group of representatives.

The letter is signed by Bishop Joe Vasquez of Austin, who is chairman of the USCCB’s committee on migration.

“While a larger solution is still needed to fix our broken immigration system, we urge Congress to first focus on passing H.R. 4796, as written, or similar bipartisan and narrowly-tailored legislation,” said the letter.

“Any legislation passed should provide Dreamers with a path to citizenship, not undermine our family-based immigration system or terminate existing protections for vulnerable migrants, and ensure that border security measures are just, proportionate, and humane.”

Vasquez said it was a “moral duty” to protect Dreamers, and that they are “valuable members of our communities.”

In Northern Ireland, anti-abortion graffiti hits Catholic churches

Armagh, Northern Ireland, Apr 25, 2018 / 05:09 pm (CNA/EWTN News).- Two Catholic churches in Northern Ireland have been targeted with graffiti bearing a message opposed to abortion, ahead of a key referendum in the Republic of Ireland.

Between the late hours of April 22 and the early morning of April 23, a vandal painted on St. Patrick’s Cathedral in Armagh a slogan “Save the 8th. Save Ireland.” The Eighth Amendment protects unborn children under the republic’s constitution and could be repealed in a May 25 vote.

Another slogan was tagged on St. Columcille’s Church in Carrickmore in County Tyrone sometime between April 23 and April 24. It appeared to say the traditionally Protestant Democratic Unionist Party’s stand against abortion would benefit the unborn who will play in the Gaelic Athletics Association and those who will speak the Irish language, the promotion of which is a subject of controversy among DUP members.

“Only DUP speaks for Irish unborn to speak Irish and play GAA vote DUP,” the slogan said, according to the Belfast Telegraph.

Police are investigating criminal damage at both churches.

Sinn Fein, a nationalist party with significant Catholic support, has endorsed the repeal effort in the Republic of Ireland, which would legalize abortion up to 12 weeks into pregnancy. Its party has endorsed legalized abortion in cases of rape, fetal abnormality, and where a woman’s mental or physical health faces serious threat, the Irish Times reports.

Garath Keating, a Sinn Fein counselor, said he was “absolutely horrified” at the graffiti in Armagh. He suggested that anyone who objected to Sinn Fein’s stance on the abortion referendum should “protest at our office or in a public forum, not write it on a church wall.”

“I can’t comprehend how anybody could think this is a useful way to convey their point of view,” Keating continued. “There is plenty of opportunity and forums for public discussion in respect of any of the matters, but to take to spreading your message by writing on a place of worship is horrifying and despicable.”

Thomas Buchanan, a DUP member of the Legislative Assembly, said, “there are strong feelings among members of the community about Sinn Fein's policy on abortion, however that does not excuse anyone engaging in criminal damage.”

“It is totally wrong and inappropriate to smear a place of worship, or any public building, with graffiti to make any sort of political point,” he said, according to BBC News.

Another Sinn Fein candidate, Órfhlaith Begley, said the incident was “blatant sectarian vandalism” and a “sectarian hate crime.”

Pro-abortion rights campaigners have also acted at churches. In the grotto of the Mary Immaculate Church in Inchicore, Dublin, some activists placed upon the altar a sweater bearing the phrase “Repeal.” They took a photo and shared it on social media.

Abortion advocacy is also underway in Northern Ireland, which has its own laws. The Department of Health on April 25 released a new report advocating abortion in cases where the unborn child has physical abnormalities.

“Women and babies in Northern Ireland do not need abortion. What women really need is access to holistic, life-affirming and compassionate healthcare that cares for both lives when faced with a difficult prenatal diagnosis,” said Bernadette Smyth, spokesperson for Northern Ireland's leading pro-life group, Precious Life.

Franciscan University highlights sexual assault policies following criticism

Steubenville, Ohio, Apr 25, 2018 / 02:27 pm (CNA).- Franciscan University in Steubenville has said it is committed to reporting and investigating all allegations of abuse in alignment with Title IX requirements and the school’s Catholic identity, following claims that it has mishandled abuse cases in the past.

“While many schools provide Title IX training that meets requirements, here, we hold our students to a higher standard,” David Schmiesing, vice president of Student Life, told CNA in email comments.

“We frame our Title IX training within the context of a Catholic understanding of human sexuality and the dignity of the human person. For example, during Orientation Weekend for all new students and parents, we provide a talk on the truth and beauty of human sexuality that sets the stage for our online training on the specifics of our sexual misconduct policy,” Schmiesing said.

Schools that receive federal funding are obliged to comply with Title IX, a federal law that requires schools to have appropriate reporting procedures in place for allegations of sexual harassment and abuse.

Franciscan University came under fire in an April 16 article in the National Catholic Reporter, which included claims from some alumni of the University, who alleged that some instances of past sexual harassment or assault were mishandled by the school.

The article's publication was supported by a grant from The Media Consortium, which has partnered with Bitch Media to produce the “DIShonor Roll,” a series of stories on the handling of sexual assault at college campuses following the #MeToo campaign.

Jenn Morson, the freelance journalist who authored the Reporter article, told CNA that she was only made aware of the grant after she had filed her story.

The Media Consortium is a 501c3 non-profit “dedicated to values-driven journalism. Founded in 2006, the Media Consortium's mission is to support and grow the impact of the independent and community news sector.”

Its leadership includes Julie Falk, Executive Director of Bitch Media, and Caitlin Hendel, CEO of the National Catholic Reporter. The Media Consortium has reportedly been the recipient of several grants from the Open Society Foundation, funded by progressive billionaire George Soros.

According to the description on Media Consortium’s website, the DIShonor Roll project, launched in February, seeks “to solve the problem of sexual violence on campus” with “consistent, powerful storytelling that puts a human face on campus sexual violence.”

“To that end, the Media Consortium, partnering with Bitch Media, is launching #DishonorRoll. Twice a month, a wide consortium of news outlets, working with project editors at Bitch Media, will publish stories on different aspects of campus sexual assault.”

Grants of $500 are available through Media Consortium to any media outlets or journalists who want to participate in the project. Other articles in the project include “Is Campus Rape Activism Accessible?”, “I Kissed Consent Goodbye: Purity Culture and Sexual Violence on Evangelical Christian Campuses” and “Everything Scold is New Again”, published on Bitch Media, and “Christendom College alumni call for Title IX response to sexual assaults” published by the National Catholic Reporter.

According to its 2016 tax filings, the mission of Bitch Media is “to provide and encourage an engaged, thoughtful feminist response to mainstream and popular culture.”

Morson's article detailed several alleged stories of mishandled sexual assault or harassment incidents at Franciscan on an alumni Facebook page.

According to the Reporter, Annie, a Franciscan alumna whose name had been changed, shared in the Facebook group that when she was raped in the spring of 2007, she was encouraged by a priest at Franciscan to seek counseling, but not encouraged to contact the authorities.

Another student, Jennifer, claimed that in 2008, Franciscan’s then-Director of Student Life, Catherine Heck violated her privacy by forcing her to call her parents after an incident of sexual assault, and by sharing the story with other RAs at the time.

Another student, Margaret, claimed a mishandling of a 2005 sexual assault incident.

"I had to tell my story several times to different faculty members and a review board made up entirely of men," Margaret said. "They asked me why I was drinking in the first place, what my dress looked like, and if I had any other encounters with [the male student] before this happened."

According to Margaret, the review board took no action against the male student after they believed there was no proof that the incident was not consensual.

The Reporter also discussed a current graduate student, identified as Mary, who said she and other women were harassed by "a man in their department," and filed a complaint with the university. They said they were not interviewed about their allegations, but were subsuently notified that the university had concluded there was no "reasonable cause to believe" the man had violated misconduct policies.

Franciscan officials told CNA that in order to protect the privacy of those involved, it could not speak about specific cases in the past or present involving sexual abuse.

“We can say that if a case involves criminal actions, we strictly follow our policy and encourage students to report alleged criminal sexual misconduct to law enforcement agencies,” Brenan Pergi, vice president of Human Resources and deputy Title IX/EEO coordinator, told CNA.

Since 2011, Franciscan has also reviewed and improved existing policies and procedures in reporting sexual misconduct, John Pizzuti, Franciscan’s Title IX/EEO coordinator and director of Campus Safety and Compliance, told Franciscan Magazine. The school has also established Memorandums of Understanding (MOU) with the Steubenville Police Department and sexual victims advocate group Alive Inc., outlining the terms and details of handling cases of sexual misconduct.

“In total, since 2011, almost two dozen new programs, designed to ensure the safety of all students, have gone into effect at Franciscan. Key staff members have received comprehensive training in helping victims of sexual misconduct. And the entire process of reviewing complaints - from reporting to adjudicating and appealing decisions—has been strengthened and clarified,” Emily Stimpson Chapman wrote in Franciscan Magazine.

Some sources in the Reporter article also claimed that the emphasis in Title IX training at Franciscan was Church teaching on sexuality and the prevention of being in situations that could lead to sexual assault, rather than on reporting incidents.

"Everything at (Franciscan University) is talked about with a religious lens. Even the way they discuss sexual assault and harassment focuses on what the church teaches on premarital sex, modesty and avoiding situations that lead to sexual assault, as opposed to taking the report for what it is," said Marisa Bortz, who worked as a sexual assault advocate and prevention educator for ALIVE, Inc., in the same county as Franciscan.

Catherine Heck, assistant vice president of Student Life and deputy Title IX/EEO coordinator, noted that “FUS encourages both prevention and reporting. Like most colleges and universities we work hard to prevent the tragedy of sexual misconduct from occurring in the first place. Equally important is our immediate support and action if a complaint is made. If we receive a report of sexual misconduct, we investigate and resolve the complaint in a timely manner.”

“All University employees (with the exception of counselors and certain pastoral staff) are obligated to promptly report actual or suspected discrimination, harassment, or sexual misconduct to our Title IX coordinator or deputy,” Pergi added. “Franciscan University encourages students and staff members to immediately report any and all cases of sexual misconduct. When a report is made, the University seeks to provide ongoing support to the student or staff member making the report.”

Furthermore, Franciscan officials said that their policies reflect the Catholic culture and identity of the school, when it comes to such topics as the Title IX issue of “consent.”

“We carefully and thoroughly describe the concept of ‘consent’ for students and emphasize that non-consensual sexual activity is a violation of our policy and an attack on human dignity,” Heck said. “We also make it clear that all sexual contact outside of the covenant of marriage is inconsistent with Catholic teaching and the University’s expectations for our students - consent is certainly necessary, but it is not sufficient.”

The full list of policies and procedures can be found on the University’s website, and are “based on our respect for the dignity of the human person as expressed in Church teaching as well as being guided by federal, state, and local statutes,” Pergi noted.

“We seek to respect the rights of everyone involved, while creating a safe and positive learning environment for students, staff, and faculty members,” he said.

Editor's note: Subsequent to the publication of this story, CNA was contacted by Jenn Morson, referenced above. The article was updated for clarity.

Dominican priest: Lack of belief within the Church enables the diabolical spirit

Rome, Italy, Apr 25, 2018 / 01:56 pm (CNA/EWTN News).- According to one exorcist working in Italy, the average time needed for a person to be freed from demonic influence in an exorcism is taking much longer than it did in even the recent past.

Whereas before it was common for a person to be liberated in one session, even if the blessing lasted several hours, now on average sessions are growing longer and multiple meetings are required for a person to be completely freed from the devil's grasp.

Fr. Francois Dermine, O.P., an exorcist of nearly 25 years, told CNA he believes the prolongation can be attributed to a few basic elements: the high diffusion of atheistic attitudes in society at large; the reduction of the understanding of faith as merely an intellectual concept; and a growing lack of belief within the Church, even among priests and bishops, in the devil and his actions.

Though there are no set rules for how long it should take for someone to be liberated from demonic obsession or possession, Fr. Dermine said that “some people can be liberated with very few blessings, though many require months.”

Others, if they are serious cases of possession, “can take a year.” However, longer sessions like this did not really happen until recently, after the 1960s, he said.

“One blessing was enough – a blessing of one hour, two hours, three hours, six hours, but one blessing was enough to liberate one person of a possession. But now it's different. It's becoming very long.”

“I think the reason for that is our society is becoming more and more atheistic, people are going away from prayer and the sacraments … so there are fewer defenses against the devil.”

Another important, but “abnormal” factor, he said, is a lack of faith within the Church itself, because during an exorcism, “the exorcist prays in the name of the Church.”

“If, within the Church, you have the clergy and also a certain number of bishops who do not believe in the devil or his actions, then the exorcist is deprived of the power of the prayer of the Church.”

Because of this, “the exorcist is liberating [people] more slowly. Before it was not the case.”

Fr. Dermine was ordained a priest in 1979 and has been an exorcist since 1994, He currently serves as the exorcist for the Archdiocese of Ancona-Osimo, and was one of the speakers presenting at an April 16-21 course on exorcism offered by the Pontifical Athenaeum Regina Apostolorum in Rome.

In his comments to CNA, Fr. Dermine said there is a general lack of formation on exorcism and the actions of the devil in the Church today.

Noting how this year's course on exorcism had 295 students most of whom are priests studying at pontifical universities, enroll, Fr. Dermine said the high number can be attributed at least in part to the fact that courses on exorcism and the devil are not included in theological curricula.

“There is a void,” he said, “so they want to learn what is not taught to them but should be taught.”

In the past, it was common for a theological curriculum to include courses on angels, demons, and their influence. “It was very important for moral theology and also for the theology of exorcism, but now it does not exist anymore,” Dermine said.

“So it's a sign that within the Church faith in these things is not as strong as it was before.”

However, the exorcist said that while it is crucial that priests be instructed on the topic, it is important not to dwell on the devil too much, in order to avoid superstition.

Fr. Dermine also voiced concern that the practice of the faith is becoming more intellectual, but less spiritual, and is therefore at times being reduced to a sort of “moralism” void of actual belief.

“Our faith is becoming more and more intellectual. We have to inform the person, we have to instruct the person with catechism, it's very important. I myself am a Dominican, I am a moral theologian, I teach theology, I believe in formation,” he said, while emphasizing that “problems cannot be solved only through information.”

Faith, he said, is above all “a mystery of salvation; we have to be saved from something, from someone, and this someone is also the devil.”

Because of this, simply changing our behavior is not enough, because “this is a sort of moralism; but our faith is not a moralism.”

Moral principles are important, but they are not the full picture, he said, explaining that Christ came to save men from sin and death, and from the actions of the devil, and because of this, it is important to know the devil and how to fight him.

Speaking of the qualities needed in an exorcist, Fr. Dermine said he believes being an exorcist is a “vocation within a vocation,” and as such, is not something priests should strive for, because it is a call from God.

Rather, he said exorcists ought to be appointed by their bishop, without trying to pursue the job themselves.

A strong personal prayer life is also something essential for an exorcist, he said, and stressed that someone called to this role is not a “super priest”, but is “a person named by the Church, and that's all.”

Fr. Dermine said the majority of exorcisms he performs are not full on possessions, but are rather blessings or prayers of liberation for people who have opened the door to the devil through actions such as fortune telling or the reading of tarot cards, or who have been attacked by the devil or cursed in some way.

He pointed to a growing superstitious and “magical” mentality in global society, saying dappling in spiritualism and occult practices can open the door to demonic activity, and make it easier for the devil to take hold of a person or influence their life.

It is important for exorcists to know the difference between someone with a genuine charism who receives spiritual gifts from God, and a medium, who is a person that may have the ability to predict or foretell past or present events, but whose abilities do not come from God.

In the case of mediums, many “think it's normal to have these phenomena, but it's not normal,” he said, adding that “many times these people have a lot of problems, but they don't understand why they have these problems,” so they come to an exorcist for help.

For those who have opened the door to the devil through occult activities, “we must try to convince these people to renounce these phenomena, which is not always easy because many of these people feel important because they have these paranormal phenomena, but they pay a very heavy price for these faculties.”

“They must renounce them because they are not moved by God,” Fr. Dermine said, explaining that every true charism that comes from God is meant to produce a spiritual or salvific effect.

Court of Appeal rejects plea from Alfie Evans' parents

Liverpool, England, Apr 25, 2018 / 12:49 pm (CNA/EWTN News).- An appeal by the parents of ailing toddler Alfie Evans was dismissed by the UK Court of Appeal Wednesday, leaving the child to remain at Alder Hey Children’s Hospital in England.

Tom Evans and Kate James had been appealing to take their son, Alfie, to Italy for treatment, after the child survived the removal of life support, against their will, at Alder Hey Hospital.

“It’s disgusting how he’s being treated. Not even an animal would be treated this way,” Evans said earlier in the day, adding that Alfie is “fighting.”

Alfie is a 23-month-old toddler who is in what physicians have described as a “semi-vegetative state” due to a mysterious degenerative neurological condition that doctors at Alder Hey Children’s Hospital in London have not been able to properly diagnose. He has been hospitalized since December of 2016.

Against the wishes of his parents, Alfie’s life support machine was removed on Monday, and hydration was withheld from him. Although he was expected to die within minutes, he began breathing on his own, and several hours later, doctors re-administered oxygen and hydration. The hospital also withheld food for nearly 24 hours before allowing the toddler to again receive it, Alfie’s father said.

In a hearing on Tuesday, Judge Anthony Hayden of the High Court again denied Alfie the right to travel elsewhere to seek continued treatment, saying his ruling would be the “final chapter in the case of this extraordinary little boy.”

That ruling was upheld when the Court of Appeal dismissed appeals from Alfie’s parents late Wednesday.

Alife’s case first attracted international attention in March, when London’s Court of Appeal upheld a lower court’s decision to end life support for Alfie. Judge Hayden of the High Court had ruled that “continued ventilator support is no longer in Alfie’s interests.”

Alfie's parents had repeatedly made requests to transfer him to the Vatican-linked Bambino Gesu Pediatric Hospital in Rome, for further diagnosis and treatment. Tom Evans traveled to Rome to meet with Pope Francis in person April 18, where he plead for asylum for his family in Italy, so that his son could be moved.

Earlier this week Alfie was granted Italian citizenship in hopes that he would be allowed immediate transfer to Rome to be treated at Bambino Gesu Hospital.

However, the UK judge ruled that the transfer would not be in Alfie's best interest, and he would not be allowed to travel to Rome or Munich, where another hospital had offered to treat him. An air ambulance had been ready and waiting to transport Alfie to Italy if the transfer was approved.

Pope Francis had offered prayers for Alfie and his family several times, including at a general audience and in several Twitter posts.

“Moved by the prayers and immense solidarity shown little Alfie Evans, I renew my appeal that the suffering of his parents may be heard and that their desire to seek new forms of treatment may be granted,” he said on Twitter Monday.

Why Catholics should beware as high-tech 'deepfake' videos emerge

Dallas, Texas, Apr 25, 2018 / 03:01 am (CNA).- Like any figure of importance, there is high likelihood that the Pope or another Catholic leader could be the subject of a fake video using a rapidly improving technology—and everyone needs to take care not to empower such a hoax, said Rudolph Bush, director of journalism at the University of Dallas.

“It’s very likely to happen, I think, and the consequences could be serious,” Bush told CNA April 23. “Depending on who is targeted by this, depending on how ripe that target is to be manipulated, it could be very damaging.”

For Bush, the prospect is “really worrisome,” given reports that social media have been used to incite societies during elections or times of racial or ethnic tensions. These tensions are manipulated to foment “not only political strife but war and in some cases genocide.”

Bush has worked as a professional journalist since 1997, serving as Dallas and Enterprise editor at the Dallas Morning News. He has written for the Chicago Tribune and the Dallas Morning News on politics and crime.

He spoke in response to the development of so-called “deepfake” videos, which are created with artificial intelligence software. One video published by Buzzfeed appeared to feature former U.S. President Barack Obama in a public service announcement about fake news.

“We’re entering an era in which our enemies can make it look like anyone is saying anything at any point in time — even if they would never say those things,” Obama’s image said.

“So, for instance, they could have me say things like, I don’t know, ‘Killmonger was right!’” said the digitally modified president, referring to the antagonist in the 2018 hit movie “Black Panther” who aimed to launch a global African uprising.

In the video, Obama appears to insult President Donald Trump and make fun of Secretary of Housing and Urban Development Ben Carson, before it is revealed that the president’s image is a digital modification. His lips have been synchronized with those of filmmaker Jordan Peele, who has acted as an Obama impersonator.

“This is a dangerous time. Moving forward, we need to be more vigilant with what we trust from the internet,” Peele’s Obama says.

The footage of President Obama was manipulated and set to a script. Adobe After Effects and a program called FakeApp were used. Rendering of the clip took about 56 hours. Peele, a filmmaker who won an Oscar for the movie “Get Out,” conceived the video with his brother-in-law BuzzFeed CEO Jonah Peretti.

With the prospect of such videos, Bush said, one has to work to “straighten out what is fake news and what is real news.”

“What it does is sow seeds of distrust and worry in societies,” he said. “And of course democracies are based on communal trust, the idea we can get together and solve our problems peacefully.”

The rise of the “deepfake” video also poses the question: will falsehood triumph?

“There used to be an old saying that the truth will win out. That is something that we based our societies on, our journalism on: over time, what is true will carry more weight than what is false,” Bush continued. “That’s being tested now.”

“We live in an age when there is so much false information, at such a volume, that it can be hard to sort out what is true,” he said. “We have a responsibility as consumers to verify what is true, and when we understand what is true, to share it with our fellow parishioners.”

He advised readers to find trusted sources of information within their community, whether in their church community or in the local newspaper, and to rely on those.

“This is a really difficult conversation in our society: whether people will trust the so-called traditional media or mainstream media,” Bush said. “A great deal of effort has been put into sowing distrust in those organizations.”

“Know from where your news comes. That’s very important.”

Both the fundamentals of Catholic teaching and of journalism and communication have shared priorities: “we seek truth, and we also verify truth,” said Bush.

“That has to be a priority when we go and we communicate. It’s a responsibility to communicate truthfully, to make sure the information we’re disseminating is truthful, it’s verified, that it’s critically appraised, before we start disseminating it,” he said.

“Otherwise we just become part of the problem.”

For Bush, it is hard to say whether the new video technology will fundamentally change the media environment or simply continue current trends.

People have become more savvy about relatively new technological hoaxes, such as scam emails promising money from a Nigerian prince, he noted.

“Nobody believes that kind of stuff anymore. So we do adapt,” Bush said. “At the same time, as these things become more sophisticated, particularly if they’re used by state actors or groups with a high level of understanding of what it takes to manipulate a society or a group, then we’ll see whether we can parse what’s real or not real.”
 

New Cardinal Newman Guide helps families navigate college search

Arlington, Va., Apr 25, 2018 / 12:10 am (CNA/EWTN News).- The Cardinal Newman Society on Monday released its annual guide to help young Catholics make an informed choice as they navigate their search for colleges.  

The organization noted that this year marks 10 years since Pope Benedict XVI’s visit to the United States. The pope addressed the importance of Catholic education during that trip.

“First and foremost, every Catholic educational institution is a place to encounter the living God, Who in Jesus Christ reveals His transforming love and truth,” Pope Benedict XVI told educational leaders at The Catholic University of America on April 17, 2008.

One year later, the Cardinal Newman Society published its first Newman Guide to Catholic Colleges, which the organization’s president, Patrick Reilly, presented to Pope Benedict in Rome.

Every year since, the Cardinal Newman Society has released an annual guide of recommended colleges, chosen based on strong Catholic identity and fidelity.

This year’s guide lists 17 recommended residential Catholic colleges in the U.S.: The Catholic University of America, Franciscan University of Steubenville, Walsh University, University of St. Thomas, Benedictine College, University of Mary, De Sales University, Mount St. Mary’s University, University of Dallas, Belmont Abbey College, Ave Maria University, Christendom College, Thomas Aquinas College, John Paul the Great Catholic University, Wyoming Catholic College, Thomas More College of Liberal Arts, and Northeast Catholic College.

It also lists 11 non-residential, international, or online colleges in the country.

Each institution also includes a profile highlighting its unique characteristics, such as educational approach and culture on campus.

The Cardinal Newman Society explained that different types of colleges may fit different students’ personalities, interests and needs, and the guide is intended to help them compare options to find the best fit for their situation.

A copy of the guide is currently available online, and a printed copy will be accessible in the fall.

The organization is also promoting its “Recruit Me” program, where high schools students can be recruited by Catholic colleges, find tips on the college decision process, and take part in the Newman Society’s $5,000 Essay Scholarship Contest.

The society also runs www.CatholicEdJobs.com, a website for Catholic schools to be connected with faithful Catholic job candidates.

Founded in 1993, the Cardinal Newman Society advocates for faithful Catholic education at all levels.

 

Michigan diocese brings in retired judge for investigation, recommits to cooperation

Saginaw, Mich., Apr 24, 2018 / 05:03 pm (CNA/EWTN News).- A retired judge who will be overseeing the internal investigation of the sex abuse scandal in the Diocese of Saginaw said he is committed to reporting abuse allegations to the proper authorities.

Earlier this month, Bishop Joseph Cistone of Saginaw announced the appointment of Judge Michael Talbot as an independent delegate appointed to oversee the internal investigation of the diocese, following numerous allegations against priests in the diocese, including one who has been criminally charged.

In March, police raided the home of Bishop Cistone, as well as the chancery and its cathedral rectory, citing a lack of cooperation on the part of the diocese in the ongoing clerical sex abuse investigation.

Talbot said in a statement released by the diocese that he will adhere to the Charter for the Protection of Children and Young People, a set of policies and procedures for handling instances of sexual abuse approved by the US Conference of Catholic Bishops in 2002.

"As delegate, I intend to comply with the mandatory requirements of The Charter for the Protection of Children and Young People adopted by the Catholic bishops of the United States," he said. "As soon as the Diocese of Saginaw receives such a complaint it will be reported to the county prosecutor where the abuse is alleged to have occurred."

Talbot, a Catholic, currently serves in the Archdiocese of Detroit on the Board of Trustees of Sacred Heart Major Seminary and is the Chair of the Board of Madonna University.

He was also a founding chairperson of the Detroit Archdiocesan Review Board in 2002, and assisted in writing the first Victim’s Rights Law for the State of Michigan, which he was responsible for implementing in Wayne County courts.

“On the occasion a person contacts the Diocese Victim Assistance Coordinator to make a complaint of sexual abuse of minors by clergy or other diocesan representative, that person will be told about the diocesan reporting obligation and also will be encouraged to directly report the allegation to civil authorities,” Talbot said in the statement.

“I also intend to seek formal reporting agreements with the 11 County Prosecutors in the Diocese of Saginaw. Beyond the legalities involved, it has been my experience that communication and full cooperation with local law enforcement serves this process well,” he added.

At a press conference following his appointment, Talbot asked that anyone with accusations of sexual abuse against diocesan authorities to come forward.

However, law enforcement involved in the investigation said afterward in a statement that people should report sexual abuse and misconduct directly to police, and not to the diocese.

According to police involved in the investigation, the diocese "cannot and should not be used as a clearing house for the reporting of crimes by victims."

"That is the function of law enforcement. Any victims of abuse or other crimes should report their allegations directly to law enforcement as opposed to the Diocese or Judge Talbot, its independent delegate."

Two priests have been placed on leave from their duties after a recent wave of accusations of sexual abuse against priests in the Saginaw diocese.

In February, Fr. Robert DeLand, pastor of St. Agnes parish in Freeland, was charged with one count of second-degree criminal sexual conduct, one count of gross indecency between male persons, and one count of attempted second-degree criminal sexual conduct/personal injury, following the accusations of a 21-year-old man and a 17-year-old high school student.

In early April, DeLand was charged with two additional counts of felony sexual misconduct against a minor, as well as one count of possessing a controlled substance and one misdemeanor count of furnishing alcohol for a minor, according to local media.

On March 8, the diocese released a statement clarifying that further review of records determined that the diocese had been informed of rumors about DeLand in 1992, and that in 2005 a woman contacted the diocese about the possibility that DeLand might have sexually abused her brother, who since had died, in the 1970s.

The diocese said it had contracted an investigator to assess the matter, and that “the independent Diocesan Review Board, Bishop Robert Carlson, who was Bishop of Saginaw at the time, as well as the family agreed that the suspicion against Father DeLand was unfounded.”

DeLand, who also served as judicial vicar for the Diocese of Saginaw, has been placed on administrative leave during the investigation. He is also banned from school properties and from presenting himself as a priest.

The second priest to be placed on leave in the recent investigation is Father Ronald J. Dombrowski, following an accusation that he sexually assaulted a minor. According to the diocese, the alleged victim first brought the complaint to the diocese, which contacted the authorities.

While Dombrowski has not been criminally charged, he has also been banned from school properties and from presenting himself as a priest during the investigation.

In 2012, Cistone was accused of misleading a grand jury about his compliance in the destruction of documents containing the names of priests suspected of child molestation in 1994, while he was a priest of the Archdiocese of Philadelphia. Cistone was not criminally charged in the incident.

In Bavaria, government buildings will display a cross over their entrance

Munich, Germany, Apr 24, 2018 / 04:33 pm (CNA/EWTN News).- The government of Bavaria has decided to instruct all state administrative buildings in the German state to display a cross in their public entrances by June 1.

The move intends to “express the historical and cultural character of Bavaria” and present “a visible commitment to the core values of the legal and social order in Bavaria and Germany”, the office of Markus Söder, Bavaria’s premier, announced April 24.

The Bavarian Interior Minister, Joachim Herrmann, hailed the decision as a “clear signal for Christian tradition”. Söder was quick to put his cabinet's decree into action, personally hanging up a cross on the wall of the State Chancellery, and tweeting that this constitutes a commitment to Bavarian identity and Christian values.

<blockquote class="twitter-tweet" data-lang="en"><p lang="de" dir="ltr">Klares Bekenntnis zu unserer bayerischen Identität und christlichen Werten. Haben heute im Kabinett beschlossen, dass in jeder staatlichen Behörde ab dem 1. Juni ein Kreuz hängen soll. Habe direkt nach der Sitzung ein Kreuz im Eingangsbereich der Staatskanzlei aufgehängt. <a href="https://t.co/o99M0dV4Uy">pic.twitter.com/o99M0dV4Uy</a></p>&mdash; Markus Söder (@Markus_Soeder) <a href="https://twitter.com/Markus_Soeder/status/988768341820170240?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">April 24, 2018</a></blockquote>
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Municipal and regional district buildings are not compelled, but encouraged to do likewise. Classrooms and courtrooms in traditionally Catholic Bavaria are already required to display a cross.

As some observers were quick to point out, the decision to display the crosses in the entranceways and not the actual government office rooms may be aimed at avoiding the controversy the display of the Christian symbol in classrooms and courtrooms has caused in the past.

Opposition party members of the Social Democratic Party of Germany and the Greens criticised the move as an election campaign tactic. Meanwhile, the elected representative of the famous village of Oberammergau, whilst denouncing any political instrumentalization of the cross, also welcomed the potential for his electorate’s artisanal woodcarvers.

Bavarian voters will go the polls Oct 14 to elect a new government – and will likely return the Christian Social Union in Bavaria (CSU) government. The conservative CSU is the Bavarian sister party to German Chancellor Angela Merkel’s Christian Democratic Union of Germany. It has dominated Bavarian politics – and provided the State Premier – since 1957.

After Alfie Evans breathes on his own, judge again strikes down transfer to Rome

London, England, Apr 24, 2018 / 02:59 pm (CNA/EWTN News).- Ailing toddler Alfie Evans will not be permitted to fly to Rome for additional treatment, a judge ruled on Tuesday during an emergency hearing.

The emergency hearing came the day after Evans’ life support machine was removed, then oxygen and hydration were readminsitered when the boy survived for several hours, contrary to the prediction of doctors.

Judge Anthony Hayden of the High Court said that this will be the “final chapter in the case of this extraordinary little boy.”

New: Alfie Evans family has lost its legal challenge to fly him to Italy for treatment in what judge calls the “final chapter in the case of this extraordinary little boy”

— Josh Halliday (@JoshHalliday) April 24, 2018 Earlier this week, Evans had been granted Italian citizenship in hopes that this would convince the court to allow him to be sent to Rome to be treated at the Vatican’s Bambino Gesu Pediatric Hospital. The judge, however, ruled that this would not be within his best interest and he would not be allowed to travel to Rome or Munich, where another hospital had offered to treat him. An air ambulance had been at the ready to quickly transport Evans to Italy had the judge approved the transfer.

Instead, Evans will remain at Alder Hey Children’s Hospital, or may eventually be permitted to return home with his parents.

Evans is a 23-month-old toddler who is in what physicians have described as a “semi-vegetative state” due to a mysterious degenerative neurological condition that doctors at Alder Hey Hospital have not been able to properly diagnose. He has been hospitalized since December of 2016.

In March, London’s Court of Appeal upheld a lower court’s decision to end life support for Evans. Judge Hayden of the High Court ruled that “continued ventilator support is no longer in Alfie’s interests.”

Evans’ parents, Kate James and Tom Evans, had repeatedly made requests to transfer him to the Vatican-linked Bambino Gesu Pediatric Hospital in Rome, for further diagnosis and treatment.

They said that Evans had recently grown “stronger and more responsive,” noting that he could take a few breaths on his own and was stretching, coughing, swallowing, and yawning. However, Alder Hey Hospital repeatedly refused the transfer, deeming it “futile.”

Until Monday, doctors did not believe that he was capable of breathing on his own, but he surprised his doctors by surviving the night breathing unaided after the removal of his ventilator. According to his father, doctors eventually gave Evans water and supplemental oxygen, but the child has not been given nutrition for nearly a day.

“Coming up to 24 hours (without breathing assistance) and he’s fighting,” said his father, Tom Evans. “Gorgeous features, pink lips, handsome grown up face, an odd cheeky smile now and again.”

Evans’ father traveled to Rome to meet with Pope Francis on April 18. He pled for asylum for his family in Italy, so that his son could be moved.

Pope Francis had offered prayers for Evans and his family several times, including at a general audience and in several Twitter posts.

“Moved by the prayers and immense solidarity shown little Alfie Evans, I renew my appeal that the suffering of his parents may be heard and that their desire to seek new forms of treatment may be granted,” he said on Twitter Monday.

Moved by the prayers and immense solidarity shown little Alfie Evans, I renew my appeal that the suffering of his parents may be heard and that their desire to seek new forms of treatment may be granted.

— Pope Francis (@Pontifex) April 23, 2018 On April 23, Italian Foreign Minister Angelino Alfano and Italian Interior Minister Marco Minniti granted citizenship to the toddler, in hopes that being an Italian citizen would allow the child to be transferred to Italy immediately.

Evans’ supporters--who include bishops, members of parliament, and other prominent figures--have dubbed themselves “Alfie’s Army” to spread awareness and to provide encouragement for the family.

In recent days, protesters numbering in the hundreds had swarmed around Alder Hey Hospital, calling on the institution to respect the rights of Evans’ parents and allow him to be transferred.

Friends, let's join with the Holy Father in praying for this poor boy and his family. May God bless them! https://t.co/bN4yllRNKk

— Bishop Robert Barron (@BishopBarron) April 24, 2018  

 

A UK hospital is holding an Italian citizen hostage and intends to deprive him of life-giving treatment against the wishes of his parents. @BorisJohnson & @foreignoffice must act quickly to let Alfie live. https://t.co/rJtMBGXhzs @ItalyinUK #AlfieEvans #AlfiesArmy

— Sir Edward Leigh MP (@EdwardLeighMP) April 23, 2018  



Let’s offer heartfelt prayers today for little Alfie Evans - now an Italian citizen - and his courageous parents. If there is anything at all that can be done, may the Lord enable us by His love and grace to effect it.

— Bishop Philip Egan (@BishopEgan) April 23, 2018